This is a special feature post written and contributed by Skylar Coonan. All credit and content is her original writing. Skylar is a professional photographer and newlywed to Jimmy. They live in Florida with her camera and bunny Pepper.
Four months in and I am just starting to feel real joy in my marriage. I’m sure after you just read that, you are thinking one of three things. You might be thinking “There is something wrong with that marriage if she isn’t happy with being a newlywed.” Or your thoughts are “I’m glad I’m not alone in this feeling.” Or you simply may just be asking “Why?” Well, whichever way you are leaning, I’m glad you’re here because I have three ways the Devil has personally attacked me as a newlywed. And these 3 attacks are why I am learning to let go of marriage expectations.
1. One of the questions we got while engaged was “What are you looking forward to in marriage?” Obviously, one of the answers was sex, but another was that we’d get to stay in the same bed, fall asleep together, and wake to each other every morning. This seemed like such a simple expectation. But this expectation got crushed hard and fast. For the first two months, I had such vivid dreams that I would wake up abruptly and at times in a gasp. Every night I felt attacked and I was both exhausted and annoyed. Jimmy’s presence helped comfort me once I was awake, but the attacks when I was asleep were unrelenting. I began to pray for God’s protection over me as I slept. On nights I prayed, I slept well and nights I would forget to pray would be nights the attacks came back. One week, I decided to ask our Bible study family to pray against these attacks and for rest. After sharing and having others pray as well, the consistent attacks subsided after a week or two. My nights are not perfect now, but even in the attacks I am reminded of the power of prayer!
2. I have often heard, as I am sure you have as well, that the sex drive lessens the longer you are married. I was not surprised by this tidbit of information. What I was surprised by was that my sex drive was practically non-existent once we got married. Yes, you read that correctly. Before we were married, the temptation of sex was a constant struggle to resist so why did I lack the desire once we got married? Sex was created by God and meant to be good and beautiful within marriage. Once sex became right and good, the Devil attacked me to make it feel wrong. He made me feel used by Jimmy rather than loved. He made me feel ashamed and in turn, I shut down. This obviously made Jimmy feel unloved and that I didn’t desire him. I hated this and didn’t know how to vocalize how I was feeling. I didn’t even personally understand why my sex drive was gone. The expectation the world gives you is that the minute you get married, you are going to want to have sex all the time and everywhere. I believed and I was ready for that to become my adventure of a reality with my husband. The reality that came was a slap in the face and all I knew to do was take it to the Lord in prayer. After months of struggling, the Lord opened my eyes and helped me vocalize my feelings of being used. The beauty of that communication is that it then allowed Jimmy to know the lie I was being convinced of by the Devil and work alongside me through it. Just like my dreams, my sex drive is not at perfection, but through all of this God has taught me the true beauty and purpose of sex. I have also learned to do my very best to communicate to Jimmy even if it starts out as nonsense because I trust the Lord to guide my words and help Jimmy understand. Shutting down only gives the Devil another boost in his attack.
3. “Marriage is one of the most joyous things you will experience in life!” We have all heard this and if you are single you either believe that statement and are excited for marriage or you think it is a lie because of poor examples in your life. When I was single, I was somewhere in the middle with my thoughts. I have seen the damage of selfishness and divorce, but believed God to be faithful in my future marriage so I was both excited and fearful. Fast forward four months into our marriage and though I can say with a full heart that marriage is no doubt a joy, I will caution you in the expectation that it is joyous all of the time. Just as he did with my sex drive, the Devil attacked my joy and I was left feeling unhappy and empty. My problem here is that I allowed him to do this to me and forgot God’s faithfulness in my life and my marriage. The fight for my joy will be a constant battle, but when my focus is on the Lord and His goodness, He wins my joy every time.
Though I have not enjoyed being attacked by the Devil as a newlywed, I am thankful for the lessons I can take away from all of it and share. Marriage is not perfect and the second you set that expectation is the second you set you and your spouse up for failure. Marriage is both rocky and beautiful and what makes it even more beautiful is when we are willing to be honest with each other about the potholes in the road. God has provided us with endless spare tires, so go into the adventure of marriage knowing you will hit holes but can continue moving forward. Whether you are single, engaged, or married, I encourage you to read “What Did You Expect?” by Paul David Tripp. We read it in our marriage counseling and I am positive that had I not read that book, I would have way more expectations to crush than just the three I mentioned. But even more than that book, remember the Lord is faithful, prayer is powerful, fellowship is important, and honesty is not shameful.